House passes bill requiring colleges to collect, disclose information about sex offenders on campus

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With a unanimous voice vote on Monday, the Houseof Representatives passed a bill that would require colleges and universitiesto disclose information about registered sex offenders working or studyingon their campuses.

Included among the provisions of H.R.4504 — an amendment to the Higher Education Act — are requirementsfor schools to report more fire safety information, publish policies regardingmissing students and clarify the categorization of residence hall crimes,in addition to the stipulation that information about sex offenders employedby or enrolled at a school be included in its annual security disclosures.

If the bill becomes law, beginning in 2001 universities will have tomake available a written policy assuring that they will acknowledge theregistered sex offenders on campus as well as stating what informationwill be available, how students and faculty can access it and when theinformation will be updated.

Daniel Carter, vice president of the campus crime watchdog group Securityon Campus, said the goal of the bill is to force campus police to makethe same type of sex offender registry information available as the localoff-campus law enforcement would.

“It’s a lot simpler than it’s been made out to be,” Carter said. “Thesimple intent is to ensure parity, to ensure that students are protectedjust the same as anyone off campus would be.”

The measure, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, also requirescampuses to reveal information regarding their fire-safety equipment andregulations and provide statistics on incidents of fires and false alarmsas well as the deaths, injuries and damages caused by those incidents.

H.R. 4504 also seeks to reconfigure the geographic breakdown of campuscrime statistics so that residence hall crimes are reported in only onecategory, not two, as is the case with the current method of calculation.